Entry 2: Day 5 – Blurred Lines

The phone rang.

"Hi son, I can't make it for our night. I have to work." My 10 year old heart sank.

It was the third week in a row. I had already come inside from my place by the curb, waiting for his truck to barrel down Gayle Avenue. I could almost smell the cologne, whiskey, and the oil of his skin as he would give me a hug, my soft cheek against the grain of his stubble.

"Okay Dad." I stared at my shoes standing on the yellow linoleum.

"I will see you next week son. Love you."

"Love you too Dad."

My Mom stepped into the kitchen. "Was that your Dad?"

"Yeah, he can't come."

"What about the child support?!?"

"He didn't say anything about it."

She broke into hysterics. "I needed you to ask him about the money! How am I supposed to pay the bills if he never shows up and never gives me child support!?!" Her face twisted and the tears ran clear.

"I'm sorry. He... I... I didn't think about it." She ran upstairs. I shoved me hands in my pockets and jammed my thumb into my thigh. "Stupid, stupid, stupid," I muttered under my breath.

Just last week I had dropped a brand new gallon of milk and had received a similar reaction.

*********************

I left the hospital around six o'clock. I hugged him before I left. The scent of the oil of his skin hung in my nose. Gone was the whiskey and aftershave. My fingers grazed over the surgical tape that covered the incision at the base of his neck.

The doctor hoped that removing the tumor near his spinal cord would allow him to regain some dexterity and strength in his hands. As I pulled away from him the spoon and fork on his table lay there, the handles wrapped in thick foam to help his grip.

"Thank for coming, son. I've missed you. I am a tough old buzzard. I'm gonna beat this."

Stage IV lung cancer would beg to differ Dad, I thought. "I hope so Dad."

"Love you, son."

"Love you too."

Back at the hotel room I poured a few fingers of some mid-grade whiskey. I sipped it and felt it wash over my teeth and coat my tongue. I poured another, took an Ativan and hopped in the car.

I found Ashley's in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. Sitting at the bar, I saw that they had Kentucky Breakfast Stout by Founder's on tap. I had wanted to try this beer for years but could never get it in West Virginia.

I ordered a Pint and some wings. The food came and I ordered another pint. I finished my food and ordered another Pint.

The bar spun around me as though the bottles fly from the shelves. I decided to try walking in the cool spring night and take in the sights of the campus at night.

Bo's statue swirled around me, I seem to remember talking to him. I walked the long way around the Big House. I wanted to get back on the other side the stadium and I found a gate. I climbed to the top, arms shaking from the strain. When I swung my legs over the top of the fence punched holes in the crotch of my pants. I swung my other leg over and jumped to the ground. Stumbling across and unknown parking lot I came to another gate and this time thought I would crawl under. The fence this time caught my back and tore through both shirts.

My phone was dead and I stumbled down the street. Shapes moved toward me on the sidewalk. "Do you know where Stacy's is?"

"Who's Stacy?"

"No the bar, Stacy's"

"Do you mean Ashley's?"

"Yeah."

"It's up that way 2 blocks. Do you need me to call someone for you?"

"No that's where I parked."

I was next at a gas station, I pulled the car over to ask directions to the Holiday Inn. My shirt and pants tattered from the fences, "Can you help me find the Holiday Inn?"

Amazingly, I woke up the next day at the hotel.